It’s the second installment of Our Minds Festival
Huguenot Fine Chocolates
Traditional Belgian chocolates with South African flavour
A churning wheel of melted chocolate is holding me hostage. Luckily Danver Windvogel and Denver Adonis’s story is a fascinating one which snaps me out of my Willy Wonka moment. We’re sitting in the tasting room upstairs at Huguenot Fine Chocolates in Franschhoek, which the pair own and run.
Eleven years ago Danver was working in a financial company and Denver was studying marketing. That all changed when they were awarded bursaries to study overseas by Belgian NGO, Livos. Much to their surprise, they were soon in Brussels studying the Belgian method of chocolate-making, and in Flemish too.
The idea behind the bursaries was to encourage entrepreneurship and as well as to create employment. At the time there was only one other Belgian chocolate shop in South Africa and it was up north, leaving them plenty of space to start their shop in Franschhoek. They started with 11 flavours, these days they produce 366, and employ 16 people. They’ve also sent more people over to Belgium to study. Their story is a model example of entrepreneurship and employment creation, but most of all it’s about chocolate. Are they sick of chocolate? “No!” comes the emphatic answer. “We make traditional Belgian chocolates with South African flavours,” Denver tells me. “We look at trends in Europe, new flavours and ideas, and we try to bring them to South Africa as quickly as possible.”
They were the first people to use Amarula in their chocolates – a pairing that has become increasingly popular. Other South African flavours include; rooibos and honey, as well as Black Label beer, pinotage and sauvignon blanc flavours. “We also make a cola-flavoured chocolate...anything you can think of.”
Any experiments that haven’t worked? “Michael Mol from Top Billing asked if he make biltong and celery chocolate!”
“We’re working on flavours all the time and if you want something that isn’t on the market we’ll do it.” The two men are passionate about the chocolates they produce, and the quality of the ingredients: the chocolate is imported from Belgium and are hand-crafted. As well as creating delicious treats they aim to educate people about chocolate and show them how to tell the real deal from products on the that shouldn’t be classified as chocolate at all.
I leave Huguenot Chocolates impressed with Danver and Denver’s knowledge of chocolate and their ability to keep coming up with creative new flavours. The box I take home with me is a lovely mix of surprises, but I think my favourite is the Amarula filled cork.
As well as a large assortment of Belgian truffles there are other chocolates for sale downstairs; from a chocolate sheep to realistic looking chocolate figs. Danver and Denver also offer tastings, which includes a talk about the history of chocolate as well as a chocolate making demonstration with tastings throughout. (Plus a gift-pack to take home.) The tastings cost only R35 and must be booked beforehand.
By Lindsay Callaghan
Huguenot Fine Chocolates
62 Huguenot Rd | Franschhoek | +27(0)21 876 4096
Opening times: Monday - Friday: 8am - 5:30pm, Saturday - Sunday: 9am - 5pm.